By Ray Hickson
On the back of a carefully crafted preparation there’ll be no excuses from trainer John Thompson if his ageless warrior Dreamforce doesn’t produce his best in Saturday’s Group 1 $600,000 Schweppes All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick.
That includes the fact the eight-year-old jumps, with James McDonald in the saddle, from the outside in the 13 horse field.
Thompson elected to miss The Star Championships and focus in on the All Aged after Dreamforce was touched out by Think It Over in the Group 1 George Ryder (1500m) on March 27 and ahead of his autumn grand final he said it was the right move.
“He’s just in great order, he looks fantastic, he’s rock hard fit and he’s just bouncing around the place carrying on like a three or four-year-old,’’ Thompson said.
“Hopefully J-Mac can weave a bit of magic from the outside draw and get a nice run and he’ll do the rest.
“I don’t mind (the outside), I’d rather have that than be in nine or 10. I’d rather be on the outside because you can do what you want especially with his gate speed.”
The fact Dreamforce, $12 with TAB on Thursday, was able to go so close in the George Ryder on a soft 7 track tells Thompson he’s at the top of his game.
Behind the gelding that day was Doncaster Mile winner Cascadian (fourth) and Doncaster and Queen Elizabeth placegetter Dalasan (seventh).
He’s never had more than five runs in a preparation, and he’s only reached five twice, and that’s what the Randwick trainer credits for Dreamforce being able to be racing at Group 1 level while rising nine.
“He’s only third-up and he’s a month between runs with a freshen up at the farm after the second one,’’ he said.
“He’s been looked after throughout his career, he’s never had a long preparation and has had good spells in between.
“His longevity is because of that and it helps being sound. He’s a been a wonderful horse for the stable over many years, I don’t think there’s been a carnival go by he hasn’t won a race.”
A rare first-up flop from on pacer Cuba has Thompson wondering what to expect in the Yarraman Park Handicap (1400m) given his trend is to dip second-up off a competitive return.
But he said the gelding had plenty of excuses for his last placing in a Group 3 at Caulfield three weeks ago.
“He got taken on in Melbourne, they went quick in front and they attacked him from the 800m mark and softened him up and he stopped,’’ he said.
“At Caulfield that day we went there with a front runner which normally suits and every race that day they were swooping out wide.
“He’s had plenty of time to get over it and hopefully he can bounce back second-up.”
Cuba was a $61 chance on Thursday, he's won two from four at the Randwick 1400m and his past two attempts yielded a second in the Group 3 Bill Ritchie in September and an open handicap win a month later.
Dreamforce runs second in the George Ryder at Rosehill on March 27
Emerging mare More Prophets will race at Randwick this weekend but as at Thursday afternoon Thompson hadn’t decided between the Fujitsu General Sprint (1200m) on Saturday, where she was $5 with TAB, and the Victory In The Pacific Handicap (1250m) on the Kensington track on Sunday.
He said regardless of the race he expects the four-year-old, resuming since a dominant 4.5 length win at Warwick Farm on Australia Day, to run well with a Group 3 target next month looming.
“We’ve worked out now how to ride her, just ride her quiet,’’ he said.
“She’s got a good bit of quality about her and she will keep going through the grades. Hopefully this weekend sets her up for the Dark Jewel in a few weeks time (at Scone on May 14).”